Drugs mule who died in Venezuela was on the run from gardaí

The Irish drugs mule who died in Venezuela was on the run from gardaí and the courts here.

Martin “Butch” Beirne disappeared from Sligo 18 months ago. He failed to appear at Sligo Circuit Court on a charge of possessing €2,000 of cannabis for sale and supply and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Beirne, 28, died on Wednesday in hospital when he was found collapsed in a hotel room in the Venezuela capital, Caracas.

Two men travelling with him, in their 20s and from Galway, were due in court in Caracas yesterday on drug-trafficking charges.

Beirne is believed to have ingested condom-wrapped bags of cocaine when one burst inside his body.

His family in Boyle, Co Roscommon, have been informed of his death.

Beirne was in Sligo town for eight years before he went on the run.

He had close links to members of a local crime family he met in jail.

One of the family was discharged from the army after a conviction for obstructing gardaí when they tried to carry out a drugs search on her boyfriend.

Some of the family live in Lanzarote and Garda sources say Beirne went there when the warrant was issued. He got involved in smuggling drugs from South America for the family through a route set up by a Portuguese gang member who lived in Sligo up to 2008 and was jailed in January for running a prostitution racket.

A senior Garda officer in Sligo said: “He was known to have operated a drugs route from South America and he was closely linked to the Sligo crime family when he was doing that.

“Beirne was a pathetic figure in the gang. He arrived in Sligo 10 years ago after he was in prison. He stayed in a hostel and then became involved with the biggest drugs family in the town. He [Beirne] was prepared to do anything for them.”


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